|Forty is the old age of youth; fifty, the youth of old age. - Victor Hugo|
No. 116, Part II, 14 June 1996
This is Part II of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. Part II is a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I, covering Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE UKRAINIAN JUSTICE MINISTER DENIES HE RESIGNED. Justice Minister Serhii Holovaty denied reports earlier in the week that said he had handed in his resignation to President Leonid Kuchma, Ukrainian TV reported on 13 June. Holovaty did not specify who he believed spread the rumor in the media, but said many political forces were skeptical of his efforts to "turn Ukraine's Justice Ministry into one of European standards." Earlier in the week, Holovaty attended the 20th conference of European justice ministers in Budapest. -- Chrystyna Lapychak LEFTIST GROUP APPEALS TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE ON UKRAINIAN CONSTITUTION. The left-wing Civic Congress of Ukraine has appealed to the Council of Europe to review parts of the draft Ukrainian Constitution and check whether they correspond with international norms, Radio Ukraine reported on 13 June. The group has asked the body to pay close attention to articles on issues of Crimean autonomy, which they believe severely limit the region's powers and contradict previous agreements between Kyiv and Simferopol. The congress also believes Article 10 of the draft on official languages should be amended to make Russian an official language alongside Ukrainian. -- Chrystyna Lapychak BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT TAKES CREDIT FOR HOSTAGE RELEASE. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka took personal control over a hostage rescue operation when a gunman took 14 kindergarten children and their teacher hostage in Minsk, Belarusian radio reported on 11 June. The children escaped down a ladder through a second-floor window to safety, while special Alpha and Almaz forces killed the gunman. Afterwards, Lukashenka sent a telegram to the heads of the KGB, MVD, and President's Security Service thanking everyone who took part in the operation and calling upon them to step forward and receive awards. Recently, the security services have been criticized for their rough handling of peaceful protesters during a series of demonstrations in the spring. The opposition has also voiced concerns that the security forces now number over 120,000, which is more than the country's 80,000-strong armed forces. -- Ustina Markus RUSSIAN PRESS SPECULATES ON BELARUS'S DELAY IN NUCLEAR WITHDRAWAL. The withdrawal to Russia of two regiments armed with 18 SS-25 Topol missiles has not proceeded on the schedule agreed to in December 1995 by the Defense Ministries of Russia and Belarus, Izvestiya reported on 13 June. All nuclear warheads should have been withdrawn by the end of May, but Minsk still has not given the two regiments permission to cross into Russia, nor has it answered any of Moscow's inquiries about the matter. Several possibilities for the delay have been suggested. One is that Lukashenka is using the missiles as a warning to NATO against expansion. Another is that the missiles will be used to counterbalance missiles the U.S. has decided not to withdraw from Europe. Yet a third is that Belarus is awaiting the outcome of Russia's presidential election. The article concluded that it is in Russia's interest to see the missiles removed since their maintenance costs 10 billion Russian rubles monthly. -- Ustina Markus BALTS DISAPPOINTED AT NOT BEING INVITED TO BOSNIAN PEACE CONFERENCE. The Lithuanian and Latvian Foreign Ministries have expressed disappointment that they were not invited to the 13-14 June international conference in Florence on peace implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BNS reported. Organizers said that only the 45 states and 15 international organizations that had participated in a similar forum in London in December 1995 were invited. Even though it had peacekeeping soldiers serving in the area, Lithuania was allegedly not invited because of "technical hindrances." A senior Lithuanian ministry official noted that even though Lithuania's request to attend the conference was backed by a majority of the countries, it was thwarted by practical considerations. -- Saulius Girnius LAW RESTRICTS LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. The Seima on 13 June passed a law that restricts who can run for president, BNS reported. The law states that persons who are serving prison sentences, have been staff employees of the Soviet or other foreign security services, or have been members of the Communist Party or worked for other organizations banned in Latvia since 13 January 1991 cannot be nominated as or elected president. A presidential candidate also must be a citizen of Latvia and have an excellent command of the Latvian language. Although the law was apparently drafted to prevent the presidential nomination of former Latvian Communist Party First Secretary Alfreds Rubiks, it will not bar his nomination as a candidate in the election to be held in the Saeima on 18 June, because the constitution provides that a law cannot be promulgated until the seventh day after it is passed. -- Saulius Girnius GDANSK SHIPYARD STRIKE OVER. The two-day sit-in strike in the Gdansk shipyard (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 June 1996) ended on 13 June, Polish and international media reported. The shipyard is to be declared bankrupt by a Gdansk court. Meanwhile, 54 Sejm deputies on 13 June signed a motion to dismiss Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek, blaming him for incompetence and "purposeful action against the Polish shipbuilding industry." Kaczmarek blames the yard's situation chiefly on bad management and unprofitable contracts. The shipyard management plans to create a new company, the New Gdansk Shipyard, which will use the bankrupt shipyard assets and employ nearly half of its work force. -- Jakub Karpinski SLOVAK POLICE STOP KOVAC JR. FROM GOING TO GERMANY. The police investigation department on 13 June denied that Michal Kovac Jr. can travel to Munich, even though he received verbal consent from the investigator of the Technopol fraud case, TASR reported. The police said that "on 27 December 1995, an investigator brought criminal charges against Kovac Jr. and on that same day blocked him from leaving the country. . The investigator is authorized to cancel the ban only after the investigation is stopped by a valid decision or the prosecution is halted." Kovac Jr. had planned to go to Germany next week to clear his name, but he expected that Slovak authorities might prevent him. In other news, Bratislava regional prosecutor Robert Vlachovsky on 12 June rejected Kovac Jr.'s complaint regarding the adjournment of his kidnapping case. -- Sharon Fisher HUNGARIAN, SLOVAK PRESIDENTS STRESS NEED FOR RECONCILIATION. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz said the opportunity and historical necessity of reconciliation between Slovakia and Hungary have been brought to the fore by the signing of the basic treaty, the visit by Slovak President Michal Kovac, and the acceleration of European integration, Hungarian dailies reported on 14 June. There was no public mention of Slovakia's intensifying domestic conflicts or the Meciar-led government's attitude toward Hungary. Commenting on Hungarian minority rights in Slovakia, Kovac said he had received a pledge from the Slovak government that a bill on minority languages would be drafted. The Bratislava-based Hungarian Civic Party on 13 June welcomed Kovac's visit to Hungary and expressed hope that it is a step toward historic reconciliation. The party noted, however, that the visit shows that there are two faces to Slovak politicians, since the ruling coalition is not interested in good relations with Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi and Sharon Fisher INTERNET ADOPTION SCANDAL IN HUNGARY. Hungarian Welfare Ministry officials have criticized a Hungarian-U.S. company, East-West Concepts, over an advertisement for Romani children for adoption, AFP reported on 13 June. The Welfare Ministry asserts that the Internet ads are illegal and violate the children's rights because they include the children's personal data and photographs, which may have been illegally released to the company by directors of state children's care homes. The ministry has launched an investigation. The president of East-West Concepts, Janos Samu, countered that the children's rights are protected because prospective parents are not given a child's address until Hungarian authorities agree to the adoption. -- Alaina Lemon SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE IMBROGLIO OVER BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. An international conference on Bosnia opened in Florence on 13 June, and differences about when to hold elections soon became evident. The U.S., France, and most other powers want them to be held by 14 September in keeping with the Dayton agreement. The Clinton administration is particularly anxious to have the vote out of the way before it faces its own ballot in November, and the international community's high representative in Bosnia, Carl Bildt, said that "any delay would increase the risk of partition into separate ethnic states." Bildt said the elections should go ahead even if Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart Gen. Ratko Mladic have not been arrested, the BBC reported on 14 June. The Bosnian government, however, opposes elections as long as war criminals are on the loose and basic preconditions for a fair vote are not met, Reuters and Onasa noted. -- Patrick Moore OPPOSITION PARTIES JOIN FORCES FOR BOSNIAN ELECTIONS. Five opposition parties--the Social-Democratic Party (SDP), the Union of Bosnian- Herzegovinian Social-Democrats (UBSD), the Muslim-Bosniak Organization (MBO), the Croat Peasant Party (HSS), and the Republican Party (RS)--on 12 June signed an agreement to run together in the upcoming general elections under the name Joint List For Bosnia, Onasa reported. The OSCE rejected the opposition bloc's candidate list for the Mostar elections because the deadline for submissions had passed. Stjepan Kljuic, president of the Republican Party, said that none of the parties had been properly informed of the final date for submitting lists of candidates, Onasa reported. East Mostar Mayor Safet Orucevic appealed to the EU administration in Mostar to enable the Joint List to run. -- Daria Sito Sucic TRAVNIK CROATS GO HOME. Ethnic Croats expelled for a second time after returning to their homes near Travnik have apparently gone home again, Reuters and Onasa reported on 12 June. Official spokesmen and various media offer conflicting accounts of how many individuals were involved and exactly what happened. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski put the figure at 11 families comprising 25 people and said his office is trying to find out whether the expulsions were carried out by competent officials or by rogue elements. The Bosnian authorities said that the Croats were "asked" to leave when they could not produce valid registration papers, while Croatian officials charged that the families, including children, were ordered out of their homes on short notice. -- Patrick Moore OPPOSITION GIVES UP NEGOTIATIONS WITH HDZ. The Great Council of the leading opposition Croatian Social-Liberal Party (HSLS) on 12 June decided to end negotiations with the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Hina reported the next day. Drazen Budisa, the council's president, resigned. The Great Council decided to support in the next election the candidacy of party Chairman Vlado Gotovac for the presidency. Gotovac said he was surprised by the public's strong negative reactions to the talks with HDZ, and added "if it's a sin to negotiate, then we are finished and we are in a psychological war," Hina reported. Gotovac said that the talks with HDZ did not threaten relations between the HSLS and the opposition coalition. Meanwhile, the HDZ presidency expressed regret over the HSLS decision to end further negotiations. -- Daria Sito Sucic RUMP YUGOSLAV PREMIER ANNOUNCES CABINET SHUFFLE. Radoje Kontic on 12 June formally announced the members of his new cabinet, including the appointment of three new ministers of finance, economics, and justice-- portfolios formerly held by deputy premiers who are now charged with "special responsibilities." A new Ministry of Agriculture has also been created at the federal level, Tanjug reported on 12 June. The daily Nasa Borba reported already on 4 June that the federal government had been restructured and that a shuffle was imminent (see OMRI Daily Digest, 4 June 1996). -- Stan Markotich SERBIAN RADICAL CASTS LOT WITH KARADZIC. Ultranationalist leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj said his party in the Republika Srpska plans to cooperate with the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDS) of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Seselj said that joining forces following elections is certain and that SRS representatives will meet SDS counterparts soon to discuss "an accord on joint presidential and parliamentary candidates," SRNA reported on 12 June. The following day Nasa Borba quoted Seselj predicting that the electoral fortunes of Bosnian Serb parties controlled by Serbian President Milosevic and his wife and head of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL), Mirjana Markovic, are bleak. "JUL and the SPS have nothing to look for in the RS," said Seselj. "Nowhere do the Serbian people in the RS feel close [kinship] with the regime of Slobodan Milosevic," he added. -- Stan Markotich PARTY OF SERBIAN UNITY VICE LEADER CONDEMNS SEPARATIST PROPOSAL. Borislav Pelevic condemned an initiative by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences [SANU] head Aleksandar Despic as "anti-Serb and anti- Yugoslav," according to Nasa Borba on 14 May. Despic had suggested the previous week that Kosovo separate from rump-Yugoslavia, warning of a population explosion among the Kosovo Albanians and saying that otherwise, in a couple of decades, Serbia will become a bilingual country. He added that the Serbs will be confronted with a "grave dilemma . when and if the Albanians decide to join in the political life of Serbia on a large scale." Despic warned that "ethnic duality [may] contain insoluble problems." -- Fabian Schmidt OPPOSITION TO HAVE JOINT CANDIDATE IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS? Adrian Vilau, a member of the Steering Committee of the Democratic Party- National Salvation Front (PD-FSN), said that the opposition may agree on a single candidate to run against incumbent President Ion Iliescu, Reuters reported on 13 June. A similar proposal was made one day earlier by the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), Emil Constantinescu. The CDR and the PD-FSN have reached an agreement on jointly governing Bucharest, where the CDR candidate, Victor Ciorbea, is ahead of the main governmental party candidate, Ilie Nastase, in the runoff scheduled for 16 June. PD-FSN leader Petre Roman said that the agreement might serve as an example for the next general elections. It is unlikely that either Constantinescu or Roman will agree to withdraw from the race. But an agreement is possible to support whichever candidate is best placed in a likely runoff against the president. -- Michael Shafir DEFENSE MINISTER URGES NATO TO ADMIT ROMANIA. Gheorghe Tinca on 13 June urged NATO not to leave Romania out of the countries admitted to the organization, Reuters reported. He said such a decision would jeopardize Romania's political, military, and economic reforms and threaten regional stability. He added that the move would lead to tension over "extremist" claims made by members of the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Tinca also said the country would have to pursue entirely different strategies if it were left uncertain about its chances. -- Michael Shafir MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE UPDATE. Parliament Chairman Petru Lucinschi on 13 June said he has not yet made up his mind whether to run in the presidential election scheduled for November, Infotag reported. Lucinschi said he was sure that more than 85% of the members of the Social Progress Party Steering Committee as well as other parties and organizations would back his candidacy. But the leader of the ruling Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM), Dumitru Motpan, said the same day that his party will certainly back a PDAM member. Meanwhile, Valentin Krylov, a leader of the Moldovan Socialist Party (PSM), told Infotag that his party's leading bodies have a different opinion than the majority of party members on whom to nominate. The PSM on 5 June named Veronica Abramciuc as the formation's candidate in the November contest. -- Michael Shafir REACTION TO FAILED NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN BULGARIA. Most dailies and many politicians are speculating about which opposition deputies on 13 June backed the Socialist government in a nonconfidence vote that all opposition parties officially supported. Some 135 deputies had voted against the motion, but the Socialists and their partners hold only 125 seats. One Socialist deputy abstained. Observers believe that most or all deputies from the Bulgarian Business Bloc and some from the ethnic- Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom supported the government. But between three and six votes are still unaccounted for and might have come from the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces or the People's Union, despite statements by their leaders to the contrary. -- Stefan Krause ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS CONDEMN OSCE REPORT. The Democratic Party on 13 June dismissed an OSCE report published the previous day, Reuters reported. The report condemned irregularities during the 26 May elections. Democratic Party leader Tritan Shehu said "I cannot accept the [OSCE] criticism . because a large part of it is baseless." Shehu said the problems arose after the opposition pulled its monitors out of polling stations hours before they closed. He added that many OSCE observers were biased. Earlier, government media published reports saying that nine Norwegian OSCE monitors had been invited by the Socialist Party and came into the OSCE delegation through the back door. An OSCE official, however, told OMRI that the report speaks for itself and such allegations are irrelevant. -- Fabian Schmidt BUT CALLS FOR NEW BALLOT GET LOUDER. The Organization of Social Democratic Parties of Europe called for a rerun of the 26 May parliamentary elections. Austrian Social Democrat Heinz Fischer, who chaired a meeting in Brussels on 13 June, said Berisha's decision to re- run polls in 17 constituencies on 16 June was a step in the right direction, but he added that "the goal must remain to hold free, democratic and internationally observed elections in all Albanian regions." Meanwhile, the Center Pole coalition said that the OSCE report confirms that their boycott of the ballot re-run and of parliament was right. They proposed a round-table meeting of all parties--the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the EU, and the U.S.--to prepare an election re-run in 17 constituencies as a test. Should the re-run show grave differences from the previous elections, they demand new ones. -- Fabian Schmidt [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Susan Caskie ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Copyright (c) 1996 Open Media Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved. 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